Last Tuesday, the midterm presentations were held, in which we presented our progress thus far. Having brought all the prints that we have printed so far, the other advanced prototyping colleagues were given a chance to get a feel for the kind of ‘soft robotics’ we are attempting to develop. At the end of the presentation we were given some valuable questions about the adhesion of two different layers of the casted silicone, in case there was a significant time in between the castings. As we knew the curing time of the silicone is approximately 40 minutes, and therefore adhesion should not be a problem when casting in our setup. The silicon adhesion has been investigated however, and we have concluded that adhesion will not cause problems in the future as the layer adhesion was near perfect with a 40 minutes gap between the subsequent castings.
Just before the end of last week’s very productive week we found a piece of sofware that would greatly reduce our developing time to create a GCODE (data file sent to 3D printer), which would incorporate the usage of a second extruder nozzle. In our case, we will use a mixing nozzle that will cast a silicone mixture in the PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), as described in Methods. However, this is not as easy as it seems, as the datafile contains only a path to be followed by the printer head, and now needs to activate the right steppenmotors of the different extruders at different times.
Using Repetier host, we managed to edit the slicer settings of both the CuraEngine and the Slic3r to incorporate a second extruder in the settings. Now only the motherboard of the Ultimaker 2+ needs to recognise this extra hardware which is done by editing the firmware. This is what we are working on at time of writing, and will be updated as soon as we have made progress